Mileage Promos Abound, What Does it All Mean?

American announced another Double EQM promotion, and United quickly followed suit.  I don’t know if Delta and the rest will match or not, but I do wonder what this says about what kind of business traffic (or lack thereof) the airlines are seeing for this fall?  Call me crazy, but economic recovery or not (and I believe the recession has ended), it’s going to be a long, cold, nasty winter for the big “legacy” airlines.  But American pretty much guaranteed that I’m going to book some useless weekend trips I didn’t need just to take AAdvantage (get it?) of the double elite miles opportunities.

My American Airlines flights this past week were all packed.  But my Platinum upgrades cleared early, and often.  Take it for what you will, but I take it as a sign that business travel remains low.

The major airlines reported traffic this week.  I only gave a fleeting look at the results, but it appears that even though traffic is off, airlines did a good job of bringing down capacity, which resulted in slightly higher load factors.  However, one of the most telling numbers for me was American’s cargo traffic results, down 24.8 percent from last year.  Nearly 25 percent!  That’s gotta say something about the impact of the global recession on commerce as a whole even after taking the fact that American is flying less into account.

The No-Fee Airline Adds a Fee, or Did It?

Southwest announced its new EarlyBird Check-in product this week.  You’ll have the opportunity to purchase EarlyBird Check-in any time from ticket purchase up to 25 hours prior to scheduled departure.  Basically, for $10 dollars each way, you can move yourself up the boarding group pecking order.  EarlyBird customers will be allowed to board immediately behind Business Select and Rapid Rewards A-List customers.  A lot of folks will call this a fee, but I see this as an actual, honest to goodness, value added service.  Frankly, I like the idea, and see it as something I would definitely use in certain circumstances.  In addition to the press release link, you can learn more at Southwest’s excellent blog.